Chinese ecommerce giant to open AI research center in UK

Megan Wright

Europe has five to ten year window to win big in artificial intelligence, says European Tech Alliance founding member 

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Amazon’s Chinese rival,, expects to expand into Europe as early as next year, announcing plans to open a research center in Cambridge in 2019.

With a focus on artificial intelligence (AI) and big data, this will be the ecommerce giant's second research center outside of Chinaanother sign of Europe’s growing global importance in artificial intelligence.

According to Gianpiero Lotito, a founding member of the European Tech Alliance who advises the European Commission on tech policy, Europe has a five- to ten-year window of opportunity to become one of the leaders in the world on AI. 

Lotito, who is also founder and CEO of human language search platform FacilityLive, commented:

“Current artificial intelligence technology is the end of the pastnot the beginning of the future, as technologists want us to believe."

"It is the long tail of a generation of brilliant technologies that base their capacity on more and more powerful algorithms," he said.

“But this is an old generation. Being better able to manage information flows will foster the creation of the next generation of artificial intelligence. This extraordinary new area, i.e. being able to manage complex information flows, is Europe’s playground in the next 10 years, because it requires the skills of people from a whole range of backgrounds, not just STEM. This is the area in which some companies of the size of Google, Amazon, Ebay etc. can rise and grow in Europe."

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“AI is typical of a culture where a machine addresses humans. Europe can change the game if we think it’s possible to change the way in which humans and machines interact. We have the possibility to build natural intelligence machines, where humans address the machines which serve them.

“This window of opportunity will be open for 5 or 10 years at most. We will not have the chance to try it in 20-30 years, so we have to try it now.”